Yup, the sun is shining, it's almost 70 degrees, there hasn't been any snow here for seven months, and Ziko Milicevic, who has lived here 35 years and should know the seasons better, is walking behind his steadily chugging snowblower, its auger chewing mightily against the clear air and an occasional leaf.
Of course I stopped to chat. Turns out that Ziko is what he calls an "enthusiast," a collector of motorized tools: lawn mowers, chainsaws, what have you. He estimates that he has 170 of them.
He found this one, a "Garden Mark" of uncertain vintage -- Ziko guesses maybe 1950's or so, but nobody could decode the serial number -- discarded in the street a couple of years ago. He opened it up, cleaned the carburetor, put it back together with no new parts and it started right up. Which is a good thing, because parts are unavailable.
It's a far cry from new snowblowers, he says; it has just one speed ("It's kinda fast.") and new ones are easier to use and maintain. When I remind him that new ones are unlikely to last 10 years, much less 60, he says, "Bad gas is part of the problem. People leave gas in the carburetor and it plugs up the little orifices."
He pulls the starter cord and the "Garden Mark" roars to life again. "Now I'm stuck with it," he says. "It's unique, and I have to keep it." (But if someone wants to part with $150, Ziko might be persuaded to pass it on. Feel free to call him at 488-0707.)
As for the rest of you: Soon it will be time to start thinking about your own snowblower's carburetor ...